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Farewell Shanghai Hardcover – Nov 15 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (Nov. 15 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590512545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590512548
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 15.4 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,438,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Moving effortlessly from Paris to Dresden to Shanghai, Wagenstein (Isaac's Torah) masterfully chronicles the lives of European émigrés and refugees in WWII Shanghai. The cast of this ensemble novel is large. Elisabeth and Theodore Weissberg, a German mezzo-soprano and her German-Jewish virtuoso violinist husband, flee Dresden to eke out an existence in Shanghai's burgeoning Jewish ghetto, which ends up 30,000 strong as the Shoah begins. Hilde Braun, a German-Jewish actress, is living illegally in Paris aided by a mysterious Slav named Vladek, until events force them, separately, to Shanghai. Istvan Keleti, a homosexual Hungarian musician and drug-user, and Gertrude von Dammbach, a former call-girl-turned-baroness, are also among the persecuted and displaced, some of whom work with the Resistance to undermine Hitler. Wagenstein is impressive in his ability to move from the small details of individual displaced lives to a larger panorama of international intrigue: there's a telling subplot about tensions between the Japanese, who occupy Shanghai, and the Germans, with whom they've formed an uneasy alliance; another revealing thread concerns the loyalties of Chinese Catholic nuns. Wagenstein brings to life a largely unknown chapter of Nazi persecution. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Library Journal

Wagenstein intelligently interweaves the voices of several characters, whose common thread is their desire to live in safety. Winner of the 2004 Jean Monnet Award, this novel sheds light on a forgotten part of history that is only now becoming known. Recommended.


Publishers Weekly

"Moving effortlessly from Paris to Dresden to Shanghai, Wagenstein (Isaac’s Torah) masterfully chronicles the lives of European émigrés and refugees in WWII Shanghai...Wagenstein is impressive in his ability to move from the small details of individual displaced lives to a larger panorama of international intrigue...[he] brings to life a largely unknown chapter of Nazi persecution"


San Francisco Chronicle

The Bulgarian novelist sets refugees, spies and a few true believers into play for a sprawling and utterly engaging book...the strong connections between the characters illustrate not only the persistence of human nature but also the illogic of war.


Grand Rapids Press

For readers and dreamers, doers and seekers, a book can make the holiday and the coming year more meaningful. Here are some good picks to fill out your shopping list...
Farewell, Shanghai,by Angel Wagenstein
World War II Shanghai is a terrible haven for many German Jews fleeing the Nazis. Wagenstein, a Bulgarian whose book has been translated into English, has crafted a tense tale of love and loss, war and peace that focuses on Shanghai, a place of stunning poverty and dazzling wealth.


Moment

Farewell, Shanghai captures this political and cultural maelstrom during World War II. Vividly written, paced like a thriller and rich with cinematic detail, the reader can practically smell the fetid, swampy air of the city. Wagenstein’s smoothly translated and fluid narrative has a sardonic edge...The riveting story of the Jews in Shanghai in the 1930s and ’40s might seem hardly credible, but as Wagenstein archly says, “Is there anything more implausible than History?”


The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

Wagenstein is one of Bulgaria’s greatest modern writers. In Farewell, Shanghai, he has constructed a fascinating and profoundly moving roman à clef.


National Jewish Post & Opinion

This is a narrative filled with barbarity and inhumanity leavened with fortitude and bravery. The fictional format chosen by the author provides an excellent vehicle for him to describe a relatively unfamiliar aspect of what happened to Jews during World War II. What he so ably sets forth has the true air of credibility, adding significantly to our knowledge about the Holocaust.

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Most helpful customer reviews

By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on May 2 2010
Format: Paperback
and translated novel of Shanghai and the Jewish colony there during WW2. The professional reviewers state very well how wonderful this novel truly is. And, evidently, it was translated from Bulgarian into French and then from French into English. This expert translation process speaks as well of the translators' skills as of the author's!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Historical spy novel May 11 2009
By algo41 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An historical spy novel, with an added focus on the Jewish condition in WWII in Shanghai; Jews there did not lead the sheltered life I had assumed. The writing is good, comparable to an Alan Furst novel. A more literary work might have focused more on Elizabeth Weisberg, a woman who did not have the stomach to survive the consequences of her principled choice. Was her choice wrong, and should her husband have permitted it? Hilde and Col Okura are especially interesting characters. The literary device used to open and close the book was not entirely successful.

You shouldn't notice that you are reading a translation, and a number of times I did, finding awkward constructions. Also, traditional Jewish communities do allow for a non-Jew to turn on lights, etc. for them if prearranged, contrary to the novel.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful yet Saddening March 9 2009
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I simply love this book, Angel Wagesntein, captures a long ago lost era which begs to be forgotten but must be remembered if not to learn from it. There is so much truth in this work of fiction. If not truth alone. I immensely enjoyed how the author, translators put such wonderful sentences together to describe the events in the story and place in time. It never really pulls itself in one direction that being a love story or a full account depiction and tribulations of the holocaust, although in a sense is what it is. But the story surpasses any sort of "documentary" style. This book is life-like in reality but has that sepia tone faded photo evoking story with well thought out real characters. The book is written in concise not over burdening chapters.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A marvelously written... Dec 27 2007
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
and translated novel of Shanghai and the Jewish colony there. The professional reviewers state very well how wonderful this novel truly is. And, evidently, it was translated from Bulgarian into French and then from French into English. This expert translation process speaks as well of the translators' skills as of the author's!
This book should be read by all May 5 2014
By R. Rashbaum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very sensitive book about the war in Germany and the Jewish people leaving Germany. The last to leave
were the elite, the musicians. All borders were closed to the Jews all but Shanghai. They went there to try and have
a life but what they found was filth, rats, and a life of drudgery. They tried to exist but some parished. This is a very
moving true story that should be read by all.
This book told me things about WW2 that I never knew, enlightening! July 2 2013
By DLS Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was a new selection of my local library. I doubt if anyone before me had ever checked it out. The story is compelling and in certain parts of the story, I had to put it down out of sheer frustration with the course of events. I had no idea that Shanghai was occupied during WW2 or that many military interests were secreted there. The conflict between the Japanese and the Chinese during this time is not something that is prominently described in literature. And the addition of the Germans to the scene only complicates it. As a fan of historical fiction, I can't recall ever having come across descriptions of this state of affairs. This, in my opinion, makes this novel unique. As for the story itself, it is a tad superficial in that characters are not fully formed but described by a narrator from a safe distance. We know little of their feelings and motivations, only what appears on the surface. However, this book is moved by events rather than by its characters. The plight of European Jewish refugees is described in great detail. The sequence of events is accurate (I checked) and that makes the novel particularly moving. We, as a people, need to know every intimate and horrible detail of wartime so that we don't repeat them. I would venture a guess that not much is known about the Jewish ghetto in Shanghai and this story brings to light what happened. I disagree with other reviewers who rant about the story not sticking to the facts. These are the facts, like them or not. I didn't find the characters particularly moving but I was sympathetic, how could I not be? All in all, this is a good novel. It's definitely worth reading.


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